"Where the Web is going, what the Web is going to be about is going to be driven by women," said NPR radio host Moira Gunn who hosted the San Francisco Women on the Web's second annual Top 25 awards ceremony.
The theme of this year's ceremony "honoring a network of women." A panel of four SFWoW judges -- including Gunn, Macromedia engineer Sarah Allen, Third Age CEO Mary Furlong, and Project Cool CEO Teresa Martin -- selected 25 winners out of the more than 200 nominated women. Those honored were judged to have made the most significant contributions "to the advancement of technology and the advancement of women in technology related fields." Within those parameters, the judges awarded engraved glass plaques to women in business, design, journalism, engineering, academia and philanthropy.
This year's recipients included Dr. Anita Borg, the founding member of the Institute for Women and Technology and a member of the research staff at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center; US Senator Barbara Boxer; Nikki Douglas, creator of RiotGrrl and GrrlGamer; Melinda French Gates and Patty Stonesifer, who have directed enormous amounts of Bill Gates wealth into Philanthropic concerns as part of the Gates Library Foundation; and Lavonne Luquis, President and co-founder of Latino Link.
"For years, I thought I had to split my love of feminism from my love of technology," said Borg, who in 1987 began to bridge her two halves with the foundation of Systers, an informal organization for technical women in computing. "Tonight I'm in heaven. But it's absolutely critical that we be the catalyst for companies to figure out that women have not been tapped nearly enough in this industry, and that we let companies who figure it out know that they're going to eat everybody else's lunch," she continued, noting that some recent surveys indicated that nearly one half of all Web users are now women.
Encouraged more participation
A dozen other speakers followed Borg. Many opted against emphasizing their technological achievements in favor of cheering on and advising the nearly 400 people (mostly women) in the audience. "Ask for more money," said award recipient Rebecca Eisenberg, a columnist and commentator on all things Web. "And don't be afraid to take jobs you know nothing about and learn on the job. People do that. I've seen them," she continued, to an enthusiastic guffaw from the audience.
"Live for today," said another award recipient, Artemis Ventures' Christine Comaford. "Work like you don't need money; love like you've never been hurt; dance like nobody's watching."
Other recipients shied away from their newfound girl-geek chic. Evi Nemeth, a mathematician, professor and co-author of the best-selling UNIX System Administration Handbook seemed delighted with her award, but noted that she had gotten where she is today not by harping on any sort of minority status. "I'm just a woman, not a feminist," she said. "I took the time to do things right, and I've never experienced discrimination. I guess that would be my advice to you."
The top 25 women on the Web, according to San Francisco Women on the Web:
1. Dr. Anita Borg, president, Institute for Women and Technology
2. Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senator
3. Christine Comaford, managing director of Artemis Ventures
4. Nikki Douglas, editor and publisher of RiotGrrl & GrrlGamer
5. Rebecca Eisenberg, Internet and technology business and culture writer
6. Melinda French-Gates/Patty Stonesifer, The Gates Library Foundation
7. Lisa Friendly, senior manager of Technical Publications for Sun Microsystems' Java project
8. Dr. Jose-Marie Griffiths, University of Michigan chief information officer
9. Auriea Harvey, creator and designer, http://www.Entropy8.com
10. Susan Lammers, CEO of Headbone Interactive
11. Lavonne Luquis, president and co-founder of LatinoLink
12. Mary Meeker, Managing Director and analyst, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
13. Carol Moore, Vice President, Corporate Internet Programs for IBM
14. Marie-Helene Mottin-Sylla, activist
15. Evi Nemeth, vice president, Corporate Internet Programs for IBM
16. Jan Peters, CEO of Media One
17. Aileen Lopez Pugh, executive vice president and CFO at TeleBank
18. Dr. Deborah Triant Rieman, CEO of Check Point Software
19. Gina Smith, ABC technology correspondent
20. Kara Swisher, author of aol.com, and Wall Street Journal reporter
21. Lisa Voldeng, CEO and founder of Uberbabe media
22. Lynda Weinman, author, web design educator
23. Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay
24. Nancy Yeager, engineer and researcher at National Center for Supercomputing Applications.
25. Roya Zamanzadeh, CEO of Pear Transmedia and editor of ZAN.
ZDTV is a sponsor of the "Women of the Web" awards.
Ashley Craddock is a freelance writer in San Francisco